This is Not News

I’ve been doing a lot of work in WordPress lately. Unfortunately (or fortunately!) for you, fair reader, all of said work has been on the back end. Now that I’ve wrestled back control of the Oliver Crumb blog, I’ve been able to upgrade it and give it some love (again, all on the back end- it looks pretty much the same on the surface). I also have control of the email accounts at the Oliver Crumb domain again. We’re now using Google Apps for Gmail, Google Calendar, GoogleDocs, etc., on all of Russell’s theatre domains. I’m very happy with it. Thus far we haven’t used Google Apps to it’s full potential but as the company grows, I imagine  collaborative workspace will be more and more important.

On the life front, this week got WAY more interesting than originally slated. I’m doing my usual movie night thing tonight. Tomorrow night we are celebrating Father’s Day with Ann and David at Upland. I’m looking forward to seeing the parentals!  Thursday night Russell decided that we needed to see the Fantasticks at his alma mater so we’ll be leaving right when he gets home from work to see the show in Terre Haute.  Then I have to be at work at 6 in the morning because I will be leaving at noon to head to Normal, Illinois, where Tim and I will hit our first drum corps show of the season. I’ll be seeing my Cavies and the Crown (and many other most excellent corps) at DCI Central Illinois. Pysched! We’ll get back in town sometime Saturday afternoon and then I will FINALLY see Duck Soup Saturday night with the Russell-Mama. If you’ve friended me on Facebook, you may have seen the Duck Soup photos by Chris Eller. Exciting! I’ll be winding up the weekend with a Sunday afternoon shift at Avers. Had I known my week would be this full, I would have requested off the whole damn weekend. Oh well. I hope to have pictures (where permitted, of course) from some of these happenings. I’ve been shamefully bad about using my camera lately.

My blogs have been an epic ‘crickets chirping, tumbleweeds blowing’ kind of quiet lately but I’ve been posting away to Twitter and Google Reader.

Currently reading: Nothing. Oh, sorry, I’ve been reading Jane Austen: Her Life and Letters via DailyLit on my iPod, usually while I’m on the bus. Other than that, nope, nothing.
Currently listening: “Anodyne,” Down and Above

I Mean to imeem

I finally decided to give imeem a shot. It’s a social networking site, much like Facebook, for the extreme media lover. It allows you to upload, share and discover music, video, and photos, with the expected arsenal of social networking tools (friending, groups, embedding, etc.). A free imeem account allows you to upload your own content (within certain limits) for you to be able to access from anywhere, though you might want to make sure you legally own the content that you upload or have a copyright or CC statement if it is content you have created. imeem also gives the option to create artist or production company accounts.

imeem Mobile allows users to access their content from their mobile phone. Just last week imeem announced the release of imeem Mobile for iPhone and iPod Touch. The app is free but I haven’t tested it yet. The reviews are mixed and one drawback for me is that there is no way to access your playlists. However, if you’ve uploaded your own music, you can access those files.

imeem seems to play nice with other networking sites. You may embed or share media from imeem on your Myspace, Facebook or blog (WordPress, LJ, Blogger, and others). There is also an easy way to Tweet a song or playlist. twt.fm also allows you to link to imeem songs for easy sharing on Twitter.

What I like most is being able to create playlists of stuff people have uploaded and stream it while I’m at work. imeem may also prove handy for testing out albums or tracks I want to buy.

My imeem profile.

An alternative I bumped into is SoundCloud, which allows you to send and receive music. It’ll be interesting to see how long it is before they’re slapped with a lawsuit, as on the surface, they don’t seem as inclined to work with record companies and artists (imeem will reduce an album to 30 second clips at the request of an artist or label). On the other hand, I have NOT researched SoundCloud thoroughly. Maybe they do make provisions for rights holders.

Currently listening: Michael Giacchino’s score for Star Trek.

On Readability

I made a note to self on yesterday’s blog because I KNEW I was going to forget to blog this- AGAIN. So, my rant on readability!

I read almost all of my news via RSS. I enjoy reading news this way not just because it’s is convenient but because I can read content without struggling with obnoxious ads, small font, and three to four different columns of information jumping out of the screen at me. Even websites that I find to be tolerable, such as NPR and BBC News, have a lot of content to sift through. I prefer multiple columns when I’m browsing around for something to read but when I’m focusing on a specific article, I don’t want flashing ads and extraneous content to distract me.

A few months ago I learned about Readability, developed by arc90. Go to this website, configure how you’d like to read content and then drag the box that says ‘Readability’ to your browser’s bookmark toolbar. Then whenever you’re browsing the web and come across something you’d rather not strain your eyes to read, you can click on the Readability link you’ve saved in your bookmarks toolbar. Doing so gives you a text-only version of the web page you are viewing, formatted the way you want. The Readability folks have added reload (to restore the web page to it’s original display), print and email buttons to the left for a bit more functionality. I use this quite often when I’m browsing the web these days.

I recommend all of you sighted folks giving it a try, especially if you find yourself doing a lot of reading online. Reduce eye strain! Limit headaches! Watch it do your laundry!

Well, OK, that last bit was a lie. Still waiting for the laundry iPhone app.

Speaking of iPhone apps, I did a quick check for birdwatching and/or bird call apps and there are TONS. I will have to research this more. In the meantime, I may install a few free ones to get me started.

Off to enjoy SUN and NATURE and good company.

The Weekend, an Account

A negative side effect of Blog Every Day in April: I’m constantly reminded of how dull I am. And now the rest of the world knows it too. Fail.

Well, for those still following along at home, here are some highlights from my weekend.

  • The style sheets for the Starrynight Productions website were magically fixed. OK, so magic had NOTHING to do with it. Tim FTW! Turns out he could track changes made and did them for me.  Whew! I still have a few things I’d like to check on but they can wait until tomorrow.
  • I did some needed shoe shopping and picked up a few more things on clearance.  I should be set for awhile, at least until I need to find another pair of jeans in the fall. Hate clothes shopping. Why can’t I spend all of my money on plants and books and road trips?
  • Speaking of books, as much as it pained me, I put aside Pride and Prejudice and Zombies for the moment. I realized that I probably won’t be able to renew at least one of the books in Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series (and probably the last, since it came out relatively recently), so I thought it best to get those read. Book 1, City of Bones, is good so far. It’s keeping my interest.
  • I made Russell my super-easy, extra-yummy Rice Krispie treats tonight. Why are they so yummy? ‘Cause I put peanut butter and chocolate in ’em. Mom reminds me that she got this recipe from my first grade teacher, Mrs. Naples-Kuhn (I hope I’m spelling that right). Here it is:

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats3 tbsp butter/margarine
4 cups mini marshmallows
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup chocolate chips
6 cups of Rice Krispies® cereal

Spray dutch oven (or some other largish pot) with cooking spray.
Melt butter and marshmallows over low heat.
Add peanut butter and chocolate, stirring thoroughly.
Mix in rice crispies.
Remove from heat.
Press into cookie sheet or other container.

I halved this recipe tonight and it fit nicely into a 6x6x2 container.

Well, that’s it for me.

Things to do tomorrow:

  1. Look up birding iPhone app
  2. Blog about (or at least mention) readability
  3. TEI, TEI, TEI
  4. Pick up quarters for laundry
  5. Walk with Tim

There was Quiet

I could rant about the hacking of my domains (many others were affected as well) but I’m ridiculously over it. If you’d like to see that stuff, my Twitter and Facebook statuses were pretty much real-time reactions. The admin had the incredibly tedious and lengthy task of rebuilding the server before he could bring it back online. He did this pretty damn quickly, in my opinion. And I am GRATEFUL. However, I don’t look forward to redoing a lot of the Starrynight website (the CSS is frelled and PHPList seems to have said, ARSY). But I’m not worrying about it now.  Little 500 wasn’t nearly as heinous as it could have been (I was very surprised not to be there until 11, then again, I open tomorrow) and I’m home, showered, and comfortable again. And I was just now enjoying all of the #drumcorps Tweets from the many corps that are at camp this weekend. So, I’m taking it easy. No ranting.

Instead, I will leave you with- the Friday. Interlude.

Maynard Ferguson, Misra-Dhenuka

Stop and Smell the Flowers

If the announcement that I will be starting a new position didn’t tip you off, you might be able to deduce as much from my sudden rash of library-related posts. Over the last two weeks, my brain has been switched into overdrive. This is all well and good but I’m beginning to think that maybe these library-related posts belong somewhere else. I am really, REALLY hesitant to ask Tim to do yet ANOTHER WP install. I know that he says it’s easy but I am aware that I’m eating up resources. On the other hand, I’m afraid that I’m boring people with shop talk. Puddles was always meant to be a personal blog. I’ll think on this a bit more. In the meantime, even though I have tons of libraries thoughts at this very moment, I’m holding off and providing you, dear reader, with something truer to Puddles posts of past (hows THAT for alliteration).

First, the weather was AMAZING today. So beautiful. I decided that the hibiscus I recently bought could tolerate the 15 minute walk to the bus so I schlepped it into work. The hibiscus is currently in a 6″ pot and is quite bushy. The roots may be a bit compacted though, as the plant looks like it is pushing itself out of the pot a little. I have a 10″ (maybe 12″?) pot to transfer it to. In addition, I bought a pair of still-small bougainvillea on Monday at May’s Greenhouse. Tim was very nice to humor me for this excursion. For a moment, I could see that he was very tempted to walk out of there with a $100+ bonsai : ). I will have to snap some pictures. Both plants are blooming (the hibiscus is red, the bougainvillea is orange) and I *think* the artificial light at my desk will suit them. If not, I’m fairly certain they will like my new south-facing window desk, which I’ll probably move into next week.

In other news, Russell just started rehearsals on Duck Soup for the Merry MAC Players of Martinsville. I often blame Russell for evening distractions that prevent me from getting things done. Even though it’s really not his fault. Well, now I don’t have that excuse. I should look at budgeting my evenings better.

Libraries on the Go (and We’re Losing the Mule)

I need to get this post out early so I’ll have time to prep and relax when I get home for tomorrow afternoon’s interview (wish me luck). This post probably won’t be very well crafted (as if yesterday’s post was well-crafted and meaningful!). There are, however, a few things going on in Library Land that have got me thinking, so permit me to ramble, kind reader.

First, there was news that Washington D.C. Public Library released their own iPhone/iPod Touch app, allowing patrons to search their library catalog. More importantly, the good folks at DCPL released the code under a Creative Commons license so that other libraries could build their own iPhone apps as well (IU, are you paying attention?). I haven’t tried out the app (and, as I’m not a patron, I couldn’t test out the full functionality anyway) but reviews from ACTUAL patrons are fairly positive. Negative reviews came from people who weren’t in the DC area and complained that this app wasn’t useful to them (you don’t say!), which is unfortunate because the app’s rating has gone down as a result. However, these unlucky people may be happy to hear this next piece of news.

OCLC, a worldwide cooperative of libraries, recently tweeted that they have released their own iPhone app, WorldCat Mobile, which allows you to look up titles and check availability in libraries local to you. I downloaded the app and plan to test it more at lunch but quickly: the search works great (in searching KNOWN titles, anyway), however the interface needs a lot of work. The menu options aren’t intuitive and a stupid pop-up kept trying to find my current location, a feature that doesn’t work when I’m in the Tower (Wells Library), even though I already set my location manually. It’s a little frustrating to use but I hope the folks at OCLC take continue to develop this app. A hint to OCLC: hire a programmer who designs Apple apps for a living because while this app is a fair start, it does not look nor function like any other well-developed app I’ve used.

For more info on libraries’ forays into the mobile world, see this February 6th article from Library Journal.

I enjoyed a couple of Heidi Hoerman’s posts at Future4Catalogers’ from a few days ago (I really need to get back to the items I star in GoogleReader a little faster!). One post in particular compares MARC (the standard markup language which libraries use to code metadata) to a mule. Heidi says: it’s time to shoot the mule.

YES! Free the metadata! Don’t get me wrong, MARC served us well in a time well before the internet. In fact, it was probably ahead of it’s time. But now it is very outdated. Our users intensively engage in interweb culture and MARC does not play well with the World Wide Web. It’s time to get away from MARC and I don’t mean by simply converting MARC to XML (although even going over to the Library of Congress’s MARCXML would be a start). No. We truly need to reinvent the containers for metadata with the needs and habits of today’s users in mind, users who aren’t necessarily even stepping through our doors to utilize our services.

I find it amusing that everyone is getting so worked up over RDA (the next generation of guidelines, currently in review, that tells us WHAT to put in metadata containers) when, in the end, whether we’re using AACR2 or RDA, our metadata is not readily shareable using MARC. Forget RDA for the moment and fix the delivery system! Perhaps we should be experimenting with RDF?

Brave New Worlds

In my mind, the interwebs is an alternate universe. As an optimist, I prefer thinking of the World Wide Web as some sort of Utopian experiment. You’re laughing. Oh no, I won’t deny that porn makes up about half of the content on the web (I suppose this content IS someone’s idea of Utopia); however, there are some amazing institutions doing great work out there on the webs. One in particular attracted my attention yesterday.

The World Digital Library launches on April 21, 2009. This is an unprecedented partnership of national, international and academic libraries (see here for a complete list). The WDL’s mission:

World Digital Library logoThe World Digital Library will make available on the Internet, free of charge and in multilingual format, significant primary materials from cultures around the world, including manuscripts, maps, rare books, musical scores, recordings, films, prints, photographs, archi­tectural drawings, and other significant cultural materials. The objectives of the World Digital Library are to promote international and inter-cultural understanding and awareness, provide resources to educators, expand non-English and non-Western content on the Internet, and to contribute to scholarly research.

What I appreciate most about this endeavor is the stress is on international primary materials. The videos on the site and this demonstration (pdf) indicated that the WDL platform itself will be available in numerous languages (in peeking at the source code, I saw hidden lines which indicate that users will be able to select either English, Spanish or French; hopefully, more non-Western European languages will be available later). The platform boasts the ability to provide translations of primary documents that are archived in the Digital Library. There are also indications that the platform will read the document for you, indicating that the platform designers are keeping accessibility in mind. Of course, none of this is clear until the site is officially launched. I look forward to playing in digital library land soon.

And now, for something completely different.

Today’s Musical Interlude: Alan and Sean of Great Big Sea join the lads and lass of Gaelic Storm to perform “Leaving of Liverpool” and “Hills of Connemara.” Wow, wish I could have seen this pairing!

For more Great Big Gaelic Storm, see the “Tell Me Ma” video here.

Time Wasters

I spend a lot of time staying connected via email, feeds, Twitter, etc. but that time spent pales in comparison to the shocking amount of time I spend per day online playing with various tools and web goodies. Here are a few that wasted my time today. Ah, well technically, I wasted my time. The goodies were just THERE, all shiny, waiting to be played with…

Blog Widgets

Generally, I try to be selective about which widgets I put on my blog because I don’t want my sidebar to be miles long. However, I love my book-related widgets (LibraryThing and DailyLit). I was going through my starred items in Google Reader this morning and was reminded of a recent LibraryThing post announcing updated widget creators.”Oh, boy!” Jenny says, pointing her browser to the appropriate link. And then I wasted time- lots of time- customizing a new widget for my blog.

I’m still not completely happy with my results (my own fault probably) but I’m curious if the newer widgets will load faster than the older ones as promised. It *seems* like my blog is loading faster (but honestly, there are so many other factors that could potentially affect load time, that it’s not fair to blame it on just one widget!). The CSS customization is a huge improvement, as is the mega-cool lightbox feature (click on one of the book covers to see what I mean). Curiously, they coded the author links to open in the same browser window, instead of in the lightbox, which to me is quirky but ultimately forgivable.

I opted for one of the lighter versions that stay static. There are, however pretty flash versions that rotate book covers, for those who wish to add some bling to their blogs. I also like that my own reviews can now display in the widgets. This is almost incentive to start writing reviews in LibraryThing. I haven’t reviewed there yet but I do make an effort to rate each book (which appears in the widget). Incidentally, I discovered today that I can rate 1/2 stars by clicking again on the star. This may have been a feature that’s been around for awhile but I found this by accident. The discovery is liberating and annoying- now I have to reevaluate my previously rated books. Ah well.

Facebook

I have begun interacting on Facebook almost exclusively via my iTouch app because when I visit Facebook on a computer, I end up taking quizzes and getting distracted by all of the random shinies that live there. This is great if I need to kill some time but lately, I haven’t had time to kill. And really, isn’t my time better spent doing something else? I still prefer Twitter over Facebook. On Twitter, I can still chat with or message people, follow specific topics with the use of hashtags, and share links, photos and videos on a simple platform without all of the other dren.

Whines the acolyte, “But EVERYONE is on Facebook!”

“Hah!” scoffs the skeptic, “That’s what Facebook and its hordes would have you… oh. Nearly everyone IS on Facebook.”

It wasn’t until I saw more friends that I speak to on a normal basis and a few family members that I finally decided to join. Even though not everyone I’d like to see has an account, I see the utility of a large social network. I get it, really. But if I must go to where the hordes are and put up with a horrible user interface (I joined after the redesign), then I will do so using what I’m referring to ‘Facebook Lite’ on Pan (i.e., iTouch). I even found a way to bypass having to visit Facebook on a regular basis by having Twitter cross post to my Facebook status. This last tactic proved awkward though, as @, #, and RT don’t mean anything to people who don’t use Twitter.

Lovely Charts

I received an email newsletter from Lovely Charts informing me of various updates they’ve made. Nothing seemed earth-shatteringly new. There are a few nice things for Premium users but even with the new features, Lovely Charts is still not a service I feel strongly enough about to pay for. The free account allows you to create and save one project, which you can come back and edit later. I suppose you can get by on the free account if, like me, you don’t have an ongoing project and you can delete your completed chart in order to create another. It is easy to use and I don’t know any other tool like it that is free.